Lesotho pays tribute to Sibongile Khumalo

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Sibongile Khumalo in conversation with The Star regarding the launch of her new album 'Breath Of Life'. Picture: Antoine de Ras, 01/02/2016
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By Neo Kolane

Legendary jazz and opera music, Sibongile Khumalo has passed on at age 63. Born in 1957 in Soweto, the musician is one of the most celebrated artists in South Africa.

The Soweto-born singer made a profound impact on South Africa and the world through her music.

She is a recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver, which was bestowed on her in 2008.

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She performed for distinguished audiences at events such as the late president Nelson Mandela’s 75th birthday.

Speaking to theReporter, jazz musician, Tshepo Tshola explained Khumalo as a multi-talented and versatile vocalist who could do opera, jazz, African music. In addition, she was highly professional.

“I will never forget her humour; every time I was with Sibongile, we were always laughing. She was a was a dedicated musician, a good mother, a good human being. We have just lost a gentle giant” the Village Pope said, adding that he recorded the much loved hit song Taung, Ha-Moletsane with her.

The founder of the Lesotho Tourism Festival (LETOFE), Montoeli Moleli, said the passing of Khumalo is a huge loss to indoor jazz festivals as the kind of songs she sang were ideal for indoor concerts.

LETOFE takes place every December. Some of the activities are the Main Jazz Festival, Divas Concert, Poetry, Comedy Nights, Tour packages, Parties, Golf Tournament and CSI project.

Moleli recalled that Khumalo performed at the Divas Concert in 2012 at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre.

“She was among the top female jazz artists in South Africa. She was very professional, soft spoken and very particular and talented.

“She was a woman of stature. She was a jazz vocalist of note with a very commanding stage presence. She was a very good singer. I have no doubt that the angels are going to have a tough time in heaven,” Moleli said.

Sibongile Khumalo will be remembered for powerful songs like Thando’s Groove, among others.

Her family said the cause of her death was a stroke following a lengthy illness.

Hundreds took to social media following confirmation of Khumalo’s death.